Throwing Rocks At The Throne
It’s time to ask yourself a serious question. What really matters to LeBron James?
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
We’ve seen this from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers before.
After the Cavs ran through the regular season like a run-away freight train and became everybody’s favorite to win it all last year, in June, I wrote a blog post about the way LeBron handled himself after the Cavs meltdown which led to them being eliminated by the Orlando Magic in six games.
In it, I was very critical of the Cavs and their arrogant sense of entitlement; the feeling that people were supposed to lie down because of who they were and what they accomplished during the season. I was also specifically critical of LeBron for not shaking hands and being congratulatory to the Magic considering he was named the MVP of the League. I felt that at the very least, he could’ve extended his hand to Dwight Howard with whom he’d just won a gold medal with the summer before.
Most people felt the incident wasn’t a big deal, other’s felt he behaved like a spoiled brat, but regardless of which side of the fence you were on, Bron got absolutely killed in the media for it. Deservingly so, I thought.
I’ve seen Michael Jordan shake hands with the Pistons in defeat. I’ve seen Magic Johnson congratulate the Pistons when Detroit beat them for the title, and I even saw LeBron congratulating Tim Duncan when the Spurs won their fourth title against the Cavs in ’07. So there was no excuse for what he did. But that was last year, and my hope then was that after the beating he took online and in print that he would grow from it and allow it to not only make him a better man, but also a better basketball player.
Fast forward to this year.
Once again, the Cleveland Cavaliers destroyed all comers during the regular season. Once again LeBron James was named MVP and had all of his teammates come up on stage with him during the ceremony (even though last year he bought them all Flipcams). And once again, we’ve seen the regular season champion and their most valuable player, stumble when it matters the most.
It’s like Groundhog Day.
When drawing comparisons between LeBron and the aforementioned current and future HOFers, a group that LeBron will one day find himself “officially” in the company of, I’ve never seen any of those guys not show up in a big game like his pitiful performance in Game 5. He’s said that his elbow is fine and that it isn’t bothering him, so there was no excuse for such a bad outing; especially not with so much on the line. And I’m not just talking about for the Cavaliers as a franchise, or the City of Cleveland, I’m talking about for LeBron James himself.
Remember, this was supposed to be his year. Especially according to the bandwagoners who only see what’s in front of them and seemingly have no recollection of the not-so-distant past. This was supposed to be the year that LeBron James won his first championship, making his launch into “super-ultra-megastar” status, official, or at least somewhat justifiable. One ring is better than no rings, right?
This was supposed to be an “I told you so” for people like myself who never bought into the whole “King James” movement in the first place. This was supposed to be the season that shut people like me up. I know this series is far from over, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s a matter of when and not if, the Cavs get bounced from the post-season. And it looks as if we’re about to see more of the same from the King…of the regular season.
During last night’s press conference, I was sort of perplexed (and also a bit miffed) that after his team gets thumped by 32 points in a crucial Playoff game, at home no less, he would have the balls to point out, by his own count, that he’s only had “three bad games in seven years.” As ridiculous as that sounds (because it is), whether he counted last night’s debacle as bad game number three or four, it was the worst possible time for him to put up a performance like that and then just Kanye shrug it off like it was nothing.
Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and even Shaquille O’Neal, his current teammate, would have never said or done something like that. Ever. Those guys would’ve been pissed and there would’ve been no doubt in anyone’s mind about how they felt about their own individual performance, but also with the outcome of the game. You would’ve walked away feeling confident that in the next game, somebody was going to be in trouble.
You didn’t get that from LeBron in his presser last night. If anything, you should’ve been left with more questions than answers. I know I was.
The way he hung his head and the attitude he showed should make people–even his bandwagoners–wonder exactly what it is that LeBron James cares about. Is being the best basketball player in the world and winning more championships than anybody else important to him? Or is being a billionaire, global icon and corporate pitchman higher on his Bucket List? While there’s nothing wrong with desiring either, what LeBron James doesn’t quite seem to understand is that the latter will be so much easier for him to achieve, if he just completes the former.
To whom much is given, even more is expected. That’s the place LeBron finds himself in now. He was given almost one-hundred million dollars before he even signed his first NBA contract. Russell, MJ, Kobe, Shaq, and Timmy all have more rings and they certainly aren’t dead, yet the people of Cleveland and the entire basketball world it seems, crowned him King before he’d done anything to even be considered basketball royalty, or to be placed on pedestal higher than the people I just named. He’s been given so much and even more has been put into him that now–rightfully so–people want a return on their investment.
Instead, it looks like LeBron is about to default on the loan again.
The only difference is this time, he’s going to find himself with bad credit and he’s going to have to do what most people with bad credit have to do when they want something of value.
He’s going to have to work for it.